Paula Arturo is a lawyer, translator and former law professor. She is co-director of Translating Lawyers, a boutique company specializing in legal translations by lawyers. During her 15-year career, she has also translated, in addition to various legal and financial documents, several legal books and high-tech publications into major international magazines for high-level authors, including several Nobel laureates and renowned lawyers. She is currently a member of the ATA Ethics Committee, the Board of Directors of the ATA Literary Division and the Public Policy Forum of the Argentine Supreme Court. Contact: paula@translatinglawyers.com. If translation is such a specialized professional service, where the stakes are so high for the end customer, why do so many translators work without the protection of a solid contract? One possible explanation, based on the responses of the group I interviewed, is that many translators refuse to enter into binding agreements containing “problem clauses”. As you can see in Figure 1, 48.7% of the 156 independent translators answered the question of whether they used contracts or not, and even more amazing 64.1% were that they did not have terms of use. (See Figure 2.) The results are surprising, especially considering that 82.1% of the group surveyed had dealing with direct clients and did not necessarily rely on the fact that its clients provided confidentiality agreements (NDAs), orders (POs) or any other legally binding document.3 A common misunderstanding about contractual freedom is that when it comes to agreements between consenting parties, almost everything is at issue. Although contractual freedom limits the government or other forms of interference or control over freely and reciprocally convened agreements,1 contracts remain limited by law. If the performance, training or purpose of an agreement is contrary to the law, the contract itself is illegal.2 Non-competition/non-advertising/non-commercial: these clauses are often present in agency contracts. The majority of non-compete clauses are legal, but not in all U.S.

states. (They are also illegal in many countries.) In translation contracts, these are essentially clauses designed to prevent translators from competing with their agency clients. On the other hand, non-purchase clauses prevent translators from speaking to Agency clients or interested clients.